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Women may say, ‘I will never…’ but some rules are made to be broken

By June Mathews

After catching a glimpse in the mirror of myself wearing reading glasses the other day, I had to laugh. Not only were the glasses kind of funny-looking – blue and red half-frames dotted with snowflakes – they also presented hard evidence that I’m nothing like the stylish woman I used to imagine I’d be at this age.

But that’s OK. Wearing those silly glasses allowed me to see well enough to read, and they reminded me of the dear friend who gave them to me several Christmases ago. So in this case, functionality and friendship easily outweighed the stylish factor.

Once again, though, I had blatantly violated one of my Never Rules, a list of style-related declarations developed in more youthful days, back when I enjoyed clear vision, carried fewer pounds in the hips and hindquarters, and had yet to feel the aches, pains and other ailments of advancing years.

I daresay every young woman has her own Never Rules. But for every one of those naive adolescents, there’s a middle-age woman whose own Never Rules have, one by one, been either bent or broken. Here is a breakdown of mine:

THEN: I will never wear clothing labeled Koret or Dunner. Only cow-shaped women with sagging body parts wear those labels, which are about as fashionable as a feed sack draped over a fence post.

NOW: Although I still consider these lines overall frumpier than most, I do have a few of their pieces hanging in my closet. When it comes to disguising figure flaws (i.e., sagging body parts), any label that does it successfully is fine with me.

THEN: I will never wear elastic-waist jeans because I won’t need to. I will always weigh 120 pounds or less, and I will always have a flat tummy and thin thighs.

NOW: Yeah, right.

THEN: I will never wear sensible shoes. Give me high heels – the higher the better – that will make me appear taller, slimmer and long-legged than I already am. I don’t care if they squeeze my toes until they’re numb, cause me to walk with a permanent limp or turn my feet into masses of corns and calluses. “Beauty before comfort,” I always say.

NOW: The floor of my closet is covered with sensible shoes, and my mantra is, “Comfort before beauty.”

THEN: I will never wear those tacky half-glasses. Those are for teachers, librarians and old maids. If I ever need glasses, I’ll wear only the fashionable, professionally fitted prescription kind. I will NEVER EVER buy cheapo readers at a drug or discount store.

NOW: See introductory paragraphs above.

THEN: I will never set foot out of the house without makeup.

NOW: I’ve adhered to this rule more solidly than others, but I do allow myself exceptions. Though I rarely leave the neighborhood without makeup, the poor folks who live around me often catch glimpses of the real me. Much to their sorrow, I’m sure.

THEN: I will never wear a dress without pantyhose.

NOW: Ha!

THEN: I will never color my hair. If it turns gray, it turns gray. I refuse become one of those elderly women walking around with fake-looking jet black hair. Do they really think they’re fooling anybody? I will wear my age elegantly and proudly.

NOW: I have an understanding with L’Oreal: As long as their products cover gray hair, I’ll be a faithful customer.

But would I ever go so far as to use jet black hair dye, even if that were the only color available? Not on your life – unless it’s Halloween. There are just some Never Rules that will never be broken, and that one is currently at the top of my list.

Email June Mathews at jmathews120@charter.net.

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